In this series, we will post excerpts from position papers prepared by TeamUSA for the Y8 Summit in London. Enjoy this window into the negotiations!
CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION
The science behind the existence of climate change is settled; the planet is changing and man-made alterations are the cause. While it is important to attempt to reduce our current eco-footprint and change our habits to attempt to mitigate as much of climate change as possible, our main focus must be on adapting to climate change both in the developed and the developing world. We cannot avoid the reality of potentially catastrophic changes around the globe.
Given the realities of climate change, renewable fuel use has been accelerating as countries move to include more hydroelectric, solar, wind, geothermal and biomass energy in their energy portfolios and increase usage of nuclear power and cleaner-burning natural gas. The United States has been among world leaders in this change. As a body we must facilitate this changeover in the developed world and assist the developing world in converting old, dirty energy to new clean energy.
But merely shifting to cleaner energy is only one component in our battle against climate change. Science has given us various methods of living on our new planet. It is of paramount importance that this technology trickles down to developing nations. There are new technologies that we must keep on the table, such as carbon sequestration and geoengineering. Both technologies require the attention and support of the global community. The United States believes that it is important to contribute funds and academic attention to both of these technologies across the world.
Further, it is incredibly important that development goes hand-in-hand with green growth. As a global community we must make sure that economic development is matched with environmental protection in the long- and short-term.
In a world that is quickly approaching its carrying capacity, it is incredibly important that economic and social development are done in a way that is sustainable for the environment and future generations.
This is of particular importance for the developing world. The World Bank believes that by 2050 the world’s population will near 8 billion people; feeding this many people will put tremendous strain on current agriculture. Agricultural practices must be as sustainable as possible, while still sustaining the needs of the present. It is important that farmers and policy makers are educated about the damaging long-term effects of cutting and farming practices and that these individuals are empowered to make changes and enforceable policies through the use of grants and aid from the international community.
There is also the issue of pollution – on land, in the air and at sea. It is important that this body looks to address current emissions rates and goals both in the developed and developing world so that these emissions do not become harmful to the individuals who have no choice but to breathe the air. There should be some emissions requirement put forth to limit what individual polluters can put as well as an oversight organization to track the immediate and potential health impacts that pollution has on the population.
It is important to protect the biodiversity of our world. Thousands of species are currently going extinct every year and experts believe that the rate at which species are becoming extinct is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than has ever existed naturally (World Wildlife Fund). A similar program of education and support would benefit both the individuals forced to make the choice between environmental degradation and personal sustenance as well as the international community and the planet as a whole.
2.4 billion people live on less than $2 US a day and it is impossible to divorce the interrelated issues of poverty and starvation from issues of environmental preservation (World Bank). The world must avoid pitting global antipoverty efforts against environmental protection and restoration.
The United States seeks to foster broad consensus among both developed and developing countries for how to implement these policy solutions on both the national and the international level.